"I think Greenville is the epicenter of hot tamales. It is a local tradition." ~Frank Carlton
In 1990, Frank Carlton, lawyer and tamale lover, organized the first World Championship Hot Tamale Contest in Greenville, Mississippi. Every year for the next fifteen years, tamale makers from around the Delta descended on Greenville to offer their bundles of meat and meal to a panel of judges in the hopes of being declared the World's Best Hot Tamale. Cash prizes were at stake. And trophies. And bragging rights.
In 2005, which turned out to be the last year for the event, we attended the contest and interviewed Frank Carlton for our Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.
Frank Carlton passed away in 2009, but his tamale legacy lives on.
This year, Greenville residents banded together to establish a festival to celebrate the "hot and soul of the Delta." The first annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival will be held in Greenville on October 20. From the event's website:
Food and music has always had a way of bringing the people of the Delta together, and the 2012 Delta Hot Tamale Festival will put both front-and-center as we celebrate our history…The Festival will help spread the word about this delicious food found here in the Delta and teach visitors about the rich history of the area where the hot tamale reigns supreme.Festival events include a blessing of the hot tamale, a Miss Hot Tamale contest, a tamale eating contest, and, in honor of the man who came before, the Frank Carlton Hot Tamale Cooking Contest.
In anticipation of the festival, Mayor Chuck Jordan declared Greenville the Tamale Capital of the World.
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Visit the Delta Hot Tamale Festival website for more information on the event.
For more about hot tamales in the Delta, visit our Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.
Grab a napkin and go!